In recent years, multi-instrumentalist, producer and DJ Bradley Miller has established himself as an intriguing talent under the name cktrl (it stands for “can’t keep to reality”). Raised in Lewisham, South London, he grew up influenced by his parents’ Caribbean heritage. As a teenager, alongside learning the clarinet and saxophone, he learned production on his own, worked at a record store, started DJing, and got a show on the online radio station NTS.
Although his first club EP in 2015, Forest, was acclaimed, Miller quickly became jaded with how the largely white music industry co-opted and gentrified black art. Since then, cktrl’s work has buried itself in its own space. Such is his success at helping build communities to create something new, he even appeared in Beyoncé’s 2020 visual album film, black is king.
In 2020, Miller’s sublime EP Robyne brooding over the deep, raw fallout of grief, with plaintive, melodious classical jazz. Last year’s follow-up, Zero, was a bit more sensuous but equally accomplished, with intricate string and harp arrangements, shaky electronics, and superb guest vocals. Next month, he’ll release new single Yield, with resplendent, pinching saxophone and sparse, delicate vocal flourishes, ahead of a new project in the fall.
With hauntingly exploratory music that sets its own path, cktrl has been around for a while, but it looks like it’s just getting started.